My Dear One, how wonderful is the gift of a new day! In my experience there is no trouble, or doubt, no despair or dread, that doesn’t take on a softer hue after a night’s rest. I hope you will remember this my Dear, for as much as I, along with all who love you, would seek to spare you from such things, these feelings are sure to visit you at some time. So remember my Darling; rest, rest, and all will be different in the morning.
I don’t think it insignificant that the book of Genesis is quite clear in recording the turning of the first day in it’s early chapter. Indeed as you may know – I’m confident your parents will have shared some of such Theology with you – the concept of ‘rest’ is at the heart of this book, the Gospel and the Good Work which is presented to us in the Christian scripture. Now, I don’t wish to add my own colour to that knowledge; instead I would like to share some more mundane observations with you.
Rest is a very precious thing which one should ensure is a vital part one’s day and week. Listen to your body and listen to your mind’s wanderings my Dear. Aim to know yourself and find out from yourself when and how you are able to find rest. Obviously there is the implicit that you are active and lively in your work and leisure (at least most of the time) but maybe we can talk of that another time. For now, let us focus on how you might benefit from rest.
Some skills in life cannot be practised at all unless a good degree of rest ,or relaxation, is contained within them. For example, when your Grandpa is playing his drums it becomes very important that both his posture and his attitude of mind is relaxed. He is then able simply to listen and respond. If I engage in ‘forced planning’ or try to consciously remind myself of what to do next I invariably lose the ‘feel’ and generally execute my part stiffly, (Often incorrectly too!) It has taken me many years to realise (yet it remains an approach I have to deliberately use) that to play music, especially in the Jazz style, one has to be ‘in the moment.’ Now this is not a style of playing that one can learn by rote – it represents more of an approach to playing. And for me that can best be expressed as restful play. The great exponent Bill Bruford – one of your Grandpa’s favourite players – said a very wise thing once – I think something that I might also dare to say should be applied to life as well as music. (Mr. Bruford came up as a jazz player and went on to play Progressive Rock with the band Yes to great acclaim and subsequently became one of Britain’s foremost experimental players.) He said, and I paraphrase, “When you play a song, there is no need to play the history of the drum kit each time; the right note in the right place will do.” In other words, what you don’t play is as important as what you choose to. It always makes Grandpa smile when he remembers that such notes are called ‘rests’ in music.
Dancing is another skill where you have to experience an element of being ‘at rest’ if you are to both enjoy it and execute it well my Darling. For some, as with an instrument, the rest comes not only from attitude but from the knowledge – literally the experience of – years of practise. This cannot be underestimated. But, in executing this knowledge, as I’ve talked about with regard to jazz, the essence of enjoying dancing is to be free and able to respond in whichever way takes you! And this only comes when you are at rest.
But rest can also aid us in accessing solutions to things that we are finding difficult. On many, many occasions I have found myself searching for just the right word, or an idea or something that my mind just could not seem to be able to fathom or produce for me. And yet, when I began to rest from tracing or searching these thoughts down what happened? I’m sure you can guess, clever Darling, Yes, soon enough my rested mind produced what was being asked for – as if from nowhere! I think there is a general principle here. Did you know my Dear that some stars can only be seen when you try not to look at them? Try it one starry night. Most activities benefit from a period of rest (from the activity.) Muscles, for example, actually need a period of rest so that they can repair and grow.
When your Grandpa was teaching the school I was at were privileged to receive a visit from one of the members of the Great Britain100m Sprint Relay Team. I listened intently to his talk about the team’s training regime and was very surprised to hear what a large portion of the day (and night) was given over to simply resting. To be sure they trained hard, and I mean very hard, from about 10 in the morning to 4 in the afternoon, then rested and ate and rested some more. I distinctly remember him saying that despite being well past his teens he was in bed by 9 O’clock each night. Now, your Grandpa has yet still to run the 100metres relay forGreat Britain, yet aside from physical activity my Dear there are lots more examples I could share from my own experience of a different nature, and I’m sure you can think of many of your own. Returning to school after a holiday with new determination and enthusiasm; returning to a favourite project after a break; taking up one’s instrument after a few days rest and so on. (Not to mention seeing a Beloved Grandchild after long weeks apart!)
So, built rest into your life my Lovely One, and I’m sure you will reap the benefit of enthusiasm, energy and appreciation on a daily basis. But perhaps more than this, try and be ready to allow some time to pass by when considering your troubles and your worries. A new day will rarely make them disappear completely – although each new day may bring new, unforeseeable events which can alter the present need – but the new dawn will certainly bring with it a new perspective and hopefully a renewed approach; or simply another daily portion of energy to cope with what is bothering you. In fact, I think that God is very gracious to parcel out our days one by one. It would seem to show a very sure understanding of how feeble our emotions are. True to our independent natures we try and look beyond the day and seek far, far into the future days, weeks, months and years – predicting all the pitfalls of our current actions. Yet, we deeply lack the mental constitution to ably balance our fears and hopes for the future, especially when these are heavily embellished with dread or a prescience of disaster. So, in His mercy, we are physically (and therefore mentally and emotionally) limited to a day at a time, with hopefully a good night’s rest in between.
Make good use of these gaps my Dear one – allow rest to enrich your experience of living each day.
Your Loving Grandpa
(c) S Dyer 2011